AstraZeneca hit by falling Crestor sales, higher costs

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Generic competition to cholesterol fighter Crestor and higher costs hit AstraZeneca in the first quarter, despite good sales of new drugs, but the group said on Friday it remained on track for a promised return to sales growth in 2018.

Its latest arrivals - Imfinzi for cancer and Fasenra for severe asthma - both sold well and total product sales in the three months rose a modest 3 percent, helped by a weaker dollar.

Total revenue, however, was down 4 percent at $5.18 billion, due to investment in new drug launches and a lack of divestments compared with a year earlier. Core earnings per share, which exclude some items, slumped 51 percent to 48 cents.

Analysts, on average, had forecast earnings of 60 cents on revenue of $5.28 billion, Thomson Reuters data showed.